So back in the spring, up at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I took in a serviceable if not so extraordinary production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” directed by Tony Taccone who runs the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Any fears that I might have entertained that this would be my last opportunity to catch up with Propsero, Caliban, Trinculo and the gang were promptly swept away in a veritable torrent of scheduled productions of "The Tempest" all over Southern California. Flavors of the month productions – Shakespeare’s often – have been ruminated upon many times in this space, but this may be a record.
Will the rain of "Tempests" never cease?
Oh no, it will not. Effective right now, you can see a different production of "The Tempest" within, say, 40 miles of L.A. nearly every week, back to back well into the fall. Then a couple of new ones hit our shores at this time next summer.
Many of them I will catch because they are different, because they come from artists – and companies – known for imaginative work, because my cracked brain thinks there’s a prize if I hear about revels ending 20 or more times before I break my own staff, so to speak.
Dive right in, if you so choose, in storm-buffeted NoHo.
T.U. Studios on Camarillo has a version of “The Tempest” that is part Shakespeare, part John Crowther (author of “No Fear Shakespeare: The Tempest”) meaning you’re probably going to hear some contemporary English. Truth be told, I’m a bit unaccustomed to having this particular work referred to as a "great romantic comedy,” but there you have it. The same press release references the play’s influence on “Forbidden Planet,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “Lost” which, while undeniable, may not be the best enticement. Still, if you’re courting Shakespearean the first-timer, why not?
Gloria Gifford directs a cast of 25 Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 7:30 through Aug. 24. (310) 366-5505.www.tix.com.
You can see Cornerstone Theater Co.’s “California: The Tempest” immediately or later depending on how fully realized you want the experience to be. The 10-city statewide tour begins with two staged readings at Grand Plaza Aug. 22-23, and the production will return to downtown June 8-20 of 2015 outdoors at Grand Park.
In between, the 10-city tour includes stops in Fowler, East Salinas, Holtville, Eureka, Arvin, Lost Hills, Grayson & Westley. One other L.A.-area stop is in the San Fernando Valley in that not-so-theatrical mecca known as Pacoima at the Cesar E. Chavez Learning Academy Feb. 5-7.
Why so many odd places? Why, because this adaptation by Alison Caery directed by Cornerstone Artistic Director Michael John Garces, is returning to the cities where the company held summer residencies from 2004 to 2013. The company’s artists spent a month at each of these communities, living and working with locals to create their brand of community-based theater.
“California: a Tempest” will have a local spin, as noted on the website: “in this traveling experience that conjures love, disaster, revenge, forgiveness and music (all that you would expect from Shakespeare!); mixed with earthquakes, drought, overdevelopment, food equity, state politics, fracking and immigration policy (all that you would expect from California!) as Prosper, her daughter Minerva, her servant Caliban and Californians from across the state yearn to find the commonality in our diversity and imagine a healthy and inclusive future for California!”
And if you are not intrigued by this proposition, then you do not know the work of Cornerstone. Kinda wish they had launched the full production in L.A. rather than concluded the tour here, but we can’t have everything. So I’m Pacoima-bound if I go into “Tempest” withdrawal. Or I wait until summer 2015.
Tour performance reservations: (800) 578-1335. http://cornerstonetheater.org/catempest.
Costa Mesa isn’t so far, although it’s a heck of a lot more accessible than Cambridge, Mass. Or Las Vegas, the previous two stops of “The Tempest” adapted and directed by Aaron Posner and Teller (of Penn &) which starts previews Aug. 29 and runs through Sept. 28 on the Segerstrom Stage at South Coast Repertory.
For this version, you’ve got magic, music by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, choreography by Matt Kent and Pilobolus. Our setting is a world evocative of a traveling tent show in the 1930s.
The cast includes Miche Braden, Louis Butelli, Joel Davel, Nate Dendy, Dawn Didawick, Joby Earle, Zachary Eisenstat, Liz Filios, Charlotte Graham, Eric Hissom, Jonathan M. Kim, Edmund Lewis, Mike McShane, Manelich Minniefee, Tom Nelis, Christopher Rose and Matt Spencer.
The show is produced in association with American Repertory Theater at Harvard University and the Smith Center in Las Vegas. (714) 708-5555, http://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=6880.
News is starting to trickle out about the production of "The Tempest" directed by Timothy Douglas for A Noise Within which begins previews Sept. 7 and runs in repertory through Nov. 22.
From the ANW website:
“The Bard’s last work is a power play of passion and wills — as resonant now as it ever was, and even more relevant. Director Douglas gives us the smoky feel of 1920s Florida for a sensual ambiance of unalloyed tension and allure. Gender politics take center stage as Deborah Strang embodies Prospero in a performance of rare courage that you’ll not soon forget. (Olympia Dukakis and Helen Mirren are among the rare actresses brave enough to assay this role.) Fiery and furious, this is a 'Tempest' that shows just how seductive revolution can be.”
In addition to Strang, the announced cast includes Alison Elliott as Miranda, Kimberleigh Aarn as Ariel, and Esteban Andres Cruz as Caliban.
(Counting Cornerstone, that’s at least two female Prosperos. Hey, if it’s good enough for Mirren and Dukakis…). (626) 356-3100 ext. 1, www.anoisewithin.org.
Finally, in November, you have a quick hit stopover of Aquila Theatre’s touring production of "The Tempest" directed by company Artistic Director Desiree Sanchez and featuring a cast of but six actors. Check it out at the Valley Performing Arts Center on the campus of California State Unievrsity, Northridge (CSUN) Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. (818) 677-3000, www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.